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Byron: Reality, Fiction and Madness

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Edited By Mirosława Modrzewska and Maria Fengler

This book explores the amorphous, fragmented and digressive world of George Gordon Byron’s poetic works, which are pervaded by the themes of change, mutability, deformation and transgression, often presented or described as madness. The blurring of the border between fiction and reality is a matter of the author’s decisions concerning both his life and his texts, and a conscious process of construction and self-fashioning. It is also a recurring epistemological theme in Byron’s works, which make take the form of narrative dis-orientation and the dismantling of easy cultural pre-conceptions. The Authors study Byron’s artistic quixotism and his pursuit of creative freedom which reveals itself in the Romantic irony, digressiveness and self-awareness of his writings.

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Reality, Fiction and Madness: Epistemic Vistas of Byron’s Life and Work

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From the methodological and theoretical point of view, it has never been quite obvious how to differentiate between biographical and historical studies of Lord Byron’s life and works on the one hand, and literary interpretations of his style and methods of constructing fictional worlds on the other. These two aspects of the Byron phenomenon – life and work – might require different methods of analysis and description. But it seems that Byron’s texts were intentionally written as pseudo-biographical and intentionally centred on the author. Hence the blurring of the border between fiction and reality is not only a problem of the readers and their interpretative capabilities. It is also a matter of the author’s decisions concerning both his life and his texts, and a conscious process of construction and self-fashioning. It is also a recurring epistemological theme in Byron’s works.

Indeed, understanding of Byron’s legacy and ways of studying his works have evolved globally since the 1980s and a variety of interpretations and analytical approaches to his literary output is now available through the activities and publications of the International Association of Byron Societies and of Romanticism studies. The present volume is designed to provide insight into the theme of cognition both in Byron’s life and work and in the world of scholarly interpretative activity.

The amorphic, fragmented and digressive world of Byron’s works is pervaded by the themes of change, mutability, deformation and transgression, often presented or described as madness. This is the subject of...

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